What Is A Sales Funnel? 

Written by James Dyson

Last updated: October 6, 2022

Using sales funnels in the right way will give you the power to increase sales by taking potential customers through a journey designed to increase conversions.

Both defining and managing your sales funnel will be one of the most powerful concepts in your business.

In this article, we’ll give you a deeper understanding of what is a sales funnel, so you can apply this powerful concept to your own business.

Remember: When you're ready to build your sales funnel, using a sales funnel software like OptimizePress makes this process much faster and easier.

What is a Sales Funnel

A sales funnel is a process that businesses use to convert prospects (people unaware of your business) into paying customers.

By understanding your sales funnel, you can optimize it effectively to maximise the influence you have on your website visitors moving through each stages of the funnel and eventually converting to a paying customer.

The 4 Sales Funnel Stages

Let’s first take a look at the stages that make up a sales funnel. This will give you an overall understanding of how these steps fit together. Then we’ll dig into what you can do to optimize each of these stages.

A good sales funnel has 4 distinct stages:

  • Awareness
  • Interest
  • Desire/Decision
  • Action

What is a sales funnel?

The Awareness Sales Funnel Stage

The awareness stage is where potential customers first learn about your product or service. A person who has become aware of a problem they want to solve will begin looking for solutions - and this is where you can present your business.

This can be through paid ad campaigns, organic search listings, word-of-mouth, social media marketing or other traffic channels..

Researching your audience and gaining a deeper understanding of the problems they are trying to solve will help you better target the content you create at this stage.

The Interest Stage

At the interest stage of the sales funnel, a prospect is aware of your business and is doing further research to evaluate whether you can help with their problem.

The aim at the interest stage is to provide valuable content that helps prospects on their journey to a solution, but does not sell to them.

The Desire & Decision Stage

In the decision stage of the sales funnel, your prospects are now ready to make a choice on the product or service they are going to purchase.

Your potential buyers are likely to be considering a range of options, and comparing pricing, offers and packages that are best suited to them.

Your aim here is to make your offer irresistible. Use of targeted sales pages and webinars can help entice your buyer. You could also consider offering a discount, or combine bonus products to create a bundle special offer.

The Action Stage

The action stage is the fourth and final step in the sales funnel. At this stage, potential customers take action and purchase your product or service.

If you make the sale and have a new customer, your next role is ensuring that you maximise revenue from that customer. This can be done through making additional offers and future promotions, as well as retention activities.

For those prospect that don’t purchase, all is not lost. With carefully crafted email nurture sequences, you can continue to deliver value and sales messages to drive home additional sales.

ToFu, MoFu, BoFu: How to Create Content For Your Sales Funnel Stages

In order to build a sales funnel, we need to break down the funnel stages into 3 separate groups to define the content we would create for each. These 3 groups are TOFU, MOFU and BOFU. 

 You might have heard these abbreviations before, but if not, let’s firstly cover what they mean:

  • ToFu: This is the top of the funnel (Awareness)
  • MoFu: Middle of the funnel (Consideration)
  • BoFu: Bottom of the funnel (Conversion)

You can see how these groups align with the 4 sales funnel stages in the graphic below:

Sales Funnel Stages

Each of these groups requires different content and marketing materials to be created in order to ensure more leads move through your funnel from prospect to customer.

TOFU - Awareness Content

Top of funnel content is designed to capture the attention (awareness) of potential buyers at the very start of their customer journey.

These prospects have likely identified they have a problem and have begun the search for solutions or more information.

To create effective TOFU content, you need to step into the shoes of your prospective customer. 

Think about the questions they might be asking or the problems they have (that your product solves) as your content will revolve around these themes.

Here are some examples of top of funnel content you can create: 

Educational blog posts and how to articles: Writing posts focusing on answering high level questions that your audience have is a great way to attract attention through organic SEO.
Listicles: These are “list posts” for example 6 Best Razors to use in 2022. These are easy to write and easy for your visitors to consume.
Infographics: Creating graphics illustrating common questions and answers is a great way to attract organic search listings - these are also sharable to generate further organic reach through social sharing.
Downloadable free guides and ebooks: Providing ebooks and free guides (sometimes called lead magnets) is a fantastic way to provide value to your audience in return for an email address.
Paid advertising: Although not specifically “content” - ads are a great way to capture your prospects attention and get them to interact with your business. You’ll usually need some kind of lead magnet or free incentive to give away via a landing page to capture your prospects email. Paid advertisements - targeting tofu keywords
Guest posts on authority blogs: Posting on industry leading blogs gives you valuable authority as well as powerful backlinks back to your own site.

The goal with your ToFU content should be to attract attention (organically or through paid channels) and capture these people as leads through lead magnets and high value content assets on your own landing pages.

MOFU - Consideration Content

At the middle of the funnel stage, your prospects already know the problem they are solving. They are researching different ways to solve their problem.

Your Mofu content should help aid the consideration of your product by further educating prospects on how your product solves their problem.

You should also seek to strengthen the relationship between you and the leads that you may have collected at the ToFu stage of the sales funnel.

MoFu content you should consider creating includes:

Case Studies: Show how others have had success solving similar problems using your products or services.
Product reviews: Discuss the pros and cons of your product against other products (comparisons). This kind of content is also great for affiliates or referral partners to create for you.
Trials: If you can provide a trial of your product or service, this is an excellent way to let prospects see how it solves their problem for themselves, first hand.
Free training courses: Help your audience with their problems, whilst also seeding your product or service as part of the solution. This positions you as an authority whilst also generating goodwill with valuable free content.
Newsletters & Email campaigns: Regular email content providing valuable insights to your potential customers is a great way to further deepen your connection with them.
Retargeting: Use retargeting ads to recapture the attention of visitors who have already engaged with your content.

BOFU - Conversion Content

At the bottom of the funnel, your prospect is likely to have a good understanding of their problem.

At this stage of the sales funnel, they know what kind of solution they are looking for, and are selecting a specific product or service to purchase.

These prospects are the most ready to convert, so your content here should convince them that your product is the best solution for them.

Here’s a real sales funnel example:

For our business - OptimizePress, an example customer at the BoFu stage might have the following scenario:

1. They have identified they want to sell courses online with a self-hosted solution where they maintain control (Problem)

2. They have identified they need a WordPress online course plugin to solve this problem (Solution)

3. They are now considering the exact wordpress only course plugin to purchase.

Your BoFu content should help give your prospect that extra “nudge” to push them to purchase.

Our recommendations for BoFu content types that work well:

Coupons & Discount offers: These are a great way to tip the scales in your favour when a buyer is considering their final product choice.
Product bundles and bonuses: Combine your main product with a few additional bonus products to create a unique “offer” that buyers can’t get elsewhere.
Scarcity based offers: Time limited offers work. Period. If you can find a way to introduce deadlines or limited quantity to your offer, your sales will increase.
Testimonials: Buyers are more savvy than ever in 2022. Use testimonials to help reassure your buyers they can buy with confidence with feedback from other customers.
Sales webinars: Webinars still work as one of the most powerful sales tools to help educate and convert your audience in one go.
Video Sales Letters (VSLs): Using a video sales letter is a great way to focus your potential customer on your sales message.
Sales Pages: Tie all these strategies together on a sales page designed to sell your product without distractions.

How to build a sales funnel

Building a high-converting sales funnel isn't just about throwing together some web pages and calling it a day.

It requires understanding your target audience, creating compelling offers, and guiding prospects towards a purchase decision with strategic communication and persuasive design.

So the key to a successful sales funnel is to focus on providing value at every stage and creating a seamless, personalised experience that guides your prospects towards a purchase decision.

To create a sales funnel that captures leads and turns them into loyal customers, you should:

1. Create a Lead Magnet

A lead magnet is a valuable resource that entices potential customers to provide their contact information.

It could be an e-book, whitepaper, case study, or any other content that solves a specific problem for your target audience.

The lead magnet is the bait that draws prospects into your sales funnel, helping you capture leads and start building a relationship with potential customers.

2. Create a Tripwire

A tripwire is a low-cost, high-value offer that comes right after the lead magnet. Its purpose is to convert leads into customers by offering them a deal that's hard to resist.

The tripwire helps you build trust, establish a buyer-seller relationship, and prime your leads for higher-priced offers down the line.

While not strictly necessary, the tripwire helps you turn more leads into customers, and give you an additional chance to improve your overall conversion rates.

3. Create a Landing Page

A landing page is a dedicated web page designed to convert visitors into leads or customers. It's your virtual sales pitch that convinces prospects to take action.

To create a high-converting landing page, you need a clear and compelling headline, a strong value proposition that highlights the benefits of your offer, and a prominent call-to-action (CTA) that guides visitors towards the desired action.

Keep your landing page focused on a single offer and eliminate distractions that could prevent visitors from converting. Use persuasive copy, engaging visuals, and social proof to build trust and credibility.

4. Create an Upsell

An upsell is an additional product or service offered to customers who have already made a purchase. It's a way to increase the value of the transaction and boost your sales and profitability without having to acquire new customers.

Upsells should be relevant and complementary to the initial purchase, providing added value to the customer.

Presenting these upsells strategically can create a win-win situation: your customers get more value, and you get more revenue.

5. Communication

To guide prospects towards a purchase decision, you need to nurture and engage them throughout the entire funnel. This is where effective communication comes in.

From the moment a lead enters your funnel, you should have a plan to keep them interested and informed. This can include email marketing campaigns, retargeting ads, and personalised content.

Communication builds a strong bond with your prospects and ultimately increases the likelihood of a sale. Segment your audience based on their behaviour and preferences to deliver targeted messages that resonate with their needs or desires.

6. Thank You Page

After someone opts in to your lead magnet or makes a purchase, they should be directed to a thank you page.

This page serves as a confirmation and provides an opportunity to engage your new lead or customer further.

You can use the thank you page to offer an upsell, encourage social sharing, or guide them to other relevant content or resources.

Start planning your sales funnel

You should now have a clear idea of what a sales funnel is and how this strategy can work to grow your business with almost unlimited potential.

The next step is to start building a plan for your own business to ensure you have relevant marketing content setup for each stage of the funnel.

If you’re not sure where to start? Focus on the top of the sales funnel first to get a steady stream of new prospects into your business. You can then take your time to nurture these prospects into becoming customers.

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